Glencoe 1/15 M41 Walker Bulldog Kit First Look
|Date of Review||October 2005||Manufacturer||Glencoe|
|Subject||M41 Walker Bulldog||Scale||1/15|
|Kit Number||9401||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$39.98|
The M41 was the next generation of light tank, replacing the M24 Chaffee. The prototype M41 entered testing in 1949 and production versions followed two years later. The tank was originally nicknamed the "Little Bulldog" but this was changed to "Walker Bulldog" in honor of General Walton Walker who was killed in Korea.
The M41 remained in front-line service with the US Army until the early 1960s, when replaced by the M551 Sheridan. The Walker Bulldog was provided to about two dozen nations, seeing combat in Vietnam as part of the ARVN, and examples can likely been seen today in various parts of the world carrying a variety of 'upgrades'.
During one action in 1971 in Laos, ARVN M41s plinked six T-54s and sixteen PT-76s without any losses. Not bad for a light tank!
The Glencoe 1/15 M41 Walker Bulldog kit is to my knowledge the only kit of this vehicle ever produced in this scale. Originally tooled by ITC, this kit features articulating suspension and provisions for power. You can see from the lower hull in this first photo the recesses for batteries, motor and gearbox. While this kit doesn't include the parts for motorization and remote control, the kit can easily be adapted for combat against the various Tamiya RC tanks in this scale.
The kit is molded in olive green styrene and it is clear that these molds have been maintained by Glencoe. Two metal axles are provided for the rear drive sprockets and front wheels. The tracks are the rubber band type molded in silver.
While assembly is very simple and the design is robust (necessary for motorization and play) the kit can be extensively super-detailed. For instance, on the lower hull sides, parts of the suspension are molded into the sides, but these are easily removed and replaced. Likewise the pioneering tools on the side of the turret. An experienced modeler can take this kit and turn it into a super-detailed masterpiece. If all of the openings on the hull bottom concern you, a simple piece of sheet styrene across the bottom will erase any hint of motorization.
Assembly starts with the lower hull with the suspension arms. These can be glued or left to articulate. Next is the main gun - it is clear this was motorized at one time as well.
The turret is next with the turret sides and turret ring going together around the main gun. The top of the turret was designed to be removable, though I'll be gluing mine into place. The turret hatches are also designed to be movable. Unless you're going to scratch-build an interior or place a crew figure in the open hatch, I'd probably leave these closed up as well. As for the kit supplied stowage for the turret sides, I'd look for some detailed alternatives to 'busy up' the appearance.
The top of the hull is very simple, receiving only the headlights and armored frames. While the real tank didn't have much detail here either, you'll want to check your references for any details that would be worth adding or updating.
The parts that make up the stowage boxes and muffler housing on both fenders are also worth a look for addition detailing.
This kit has one of the more extensive sets of marking options I've seen, especially in this scale! There are over 20 options for marking your M41, including:
- Austria x 1
- Belgium x 1
- Brazil x 1
- Japan JGSDF x 5
- New Zealand x 2
- Taiwan x 3
- US Army x 4
- Vietnam (ARVN) x 3
These days, you can hardly find an armor kit in 1/35 scale for under $40.00 and the starting price of 1/15 scale armor is quite a bit higher. With this kit's MSRP, it is a bargain. While the kit is nowhere near the detail of contemporary kits, the price more than makes up for this and provides a good modeler with an excellent subject for super-detailing.
Those of you who are looking for some inexpensive RC combat options to tackle the Tamiya 1/15 Tigers, you can acquire the parts to render as much mechanization as your budget can handle and still have a cheaper combat contestant than your Tamiya contenders.
Either way, this kit is definitely recommended to builders of all skill levels.
My sincere thanks to Glencoe Models for this review sample!